It’s been about a week since the grandest wrestling event of the year took place. If you have been living under the confines of a rock or are indeed a socially awkward hermit, then you will know that we are talking about. Wrestlemania!
Wrestlemania has become synonyms with one man over the decades and even if you have never willingly watched two big 6 ft 6 sweaty men grapple each other in a wrestling ring, there is a very good chance you may have heard of one man. The Undertaker.
And, if you haven’t, well you are as good as dead (no pun intended). The Undertaker, also known as the Phenom and the closest thing to a deity and logical proof of god, that Richard Dawkins will ever need is a bonafide legend in the world of “sports entertainment”.
The Undertaker, real name Mark Calaway. debuted in the WWE 25-years-ago and instantly became one of the most popular superstars in history. Making his debut at Survivor Series in 1990, before winning his first WWE championship in 1991 against the Immortal and until then, mostly the “undefeatable” Hulk Hogan.
Six further reigns would follow, as well as three tag-team titles and the 2007 “Royal Rumble”, but the legacy of the Undertaker goes beyond gold and glory for Wrestling fans.
Across his three decades at the top, the man has reinvented himself more times than Madonna, but unlike Madonna who has destroyed her legacy by threatening terrorist attacks against the President of the United States. The Undertaker has continued to enhance and develop his iconic and legendary career.
His Wrestlemania winning streak became the stuff of legend, with the 52-year-old winning his first 21 matches at Wrestlemania before finally losing his undefeated streak to Brock Lesnar in 2014.
A second Wrestlemania defeat came courtesy of the much younger Roman Reigns, which occurred at Wrestlemania 33, and if you are to believe the hype and hysteria, was the Dead Man’s very last match.
Please, don’t say this is true! How can you ‘lose’ a fight if wrestling is all staged and pre-rehearsed, critics of the “squared circle” will say? Well, coming from the same people who are emotionally invested in the post-apocalyptic antics of Rick and his squad on The Walking Dead, we say, “wrestling is real to some of us, damn it!”
After he was finally pinned by Reigns, the reality of the moment hit the stunned crowd in Orlando. It was like the streak had ended all over again.
As the Undertaker rose up from the canvas and ceremoniously left his signature attire in the middle of the ring, the silence grew to respectful cheers, to wild applause, to honourable thank you chants. And, a move that is unspeakable for someone of the mystic that is the Undertaker, whom proceeded to break character and kiss his wife, former WWE Superstar Michelle McCool, who was ringside watching her husbands supposed last match.
It was this move along with the symbolic removal of his trademark wrestling gear that lead many people to believe that we would never see the Lord of Darkness again.
News of his apparent retirement spread across the globe with all the speed of his trademark tombstone piledriver, from WWE superstars to the world press signifying the Dead Man’s retirement from the world of sports entertainment.
It was the most melancholy ending to a WrestleMania that goes down in history. In a way, it almost felt like someone died, which is quite fitting, considering that mourning the sorrowed end of The Undertakers career is like mourning the loss of a loved one.
But, regardless of people’s observation, there has been no official announcement from the Undertaker, his family or the WWE on the Phenom’s retirement or status. Officially the Dead Man is pretty much still alive.
With speculation that the Undertaker is set to undergo much-needed hip replacement surgery following his WrestleMania “retirement” are we looking at just an extended break for the Dead Man?
Former WWE Superstar Sean Waltman (a.k.a X-Pac) seems to think so.
After having a conversation with “The Deadman” backstage at last week’s 2017 Hall Of Fame induction ceremony, the former WWE Tag Team Champion said that he believes that ‘Taker is still coming back.
On his podcast, Waltman had the following to say on Undertaker’s status “It never even occurred to me as we were talking (Backstage at the Hall of Fame) and I still don’t think it. I still think he’s coming back. I’m sticking by that… He’s going to go in, he’s going to have that surgery (Hip replacement) and he’s going to feel good and he’s going to go, one, two, (Kick out of pin motion) not today!”
So, is the crafty WWE deceiving us into believing that this was indeed the Undertakers last ride? Was this a clever marketing ploy to generate publicity and column inches? With the amount of social media attraction and the fact that #ThankYouTaker was trending worldwide for days on Twitter, I would say Vince McMahon and the WWE Marketing team deserve a pat on the back if that was the case.
Will we have a 2018 headlining Hall of Fame induction for the “American bad ass” or will we see the Dead Man rise again? All we can do is wait with bated breath until Wrestlemnia 34 arrives, in order to see if the Phenom is merely a spectator or a competitor on the grandest stage of them all. Nobody does fake wrestling entertainment this Good, sorry WCW!
Story by Michael Lee
Featured Photo Credit: WWE